Didcot brothers ready to take the plunge for cause close to their hearts

Published: 5th June 2017

Two Didcot brothers and a newspaper production manager are amongst a daring bunch getting ready to throw themselves out of a plane at 120mph in aid of Play2Give.

The Didcot-based fundraising group, created in September 2007, is marking its tenth anniversary this year and as part of this milestone celebration includes a tandem skydive for one brave group of guys in September.

The tandem skydivers are whetting themselves up quite literally to an air-raising appetite for the sky as they prepare to go freefalling 13,000-feet over Hinton Airfield near Banbury on September 3rd in a hope to fly in as much money as possible between them all for Play2Give as part of its ’10k in 10′ appeal.

The proceeds raised will support the fundraising group’s birthday campaign to raise £10,000 for the brain injury charity, Headway Oxfordshire and as much as possible towards the Children’s Hospital £2million fundraising appeal.

Amongst them are two brothers – both close friends of P2G’s founder Andy Baker – Luke Norris, 23, and Matthew Norris, 21 – and for whom Andy is their inspiration.

The idea of the skydive originated two years ago when Luke, who works on counters at Sainsbury’s in Didcot, became 21 and rather hastily mused over the idea of skydiving to raise funds for P2G – a cause which Luke holds with great passion – after seeing the dedication and passion of Andy. They are both best friends.

Luke first met Andy in early 2015 when P2G was the supermarket’s charity of the year and Luke instantly became awe-inspired by the work and ethos of P2G’s objectives and immediately struck up a close friendship with Andy.

Luke encouraged fellow ‘counter colleagues’ to join him in ‘The Big Shave’ – which was one initiative as part of the Didcot store’s year of support – and saw Luke and two former colleagues become shorn to skinheads – raising over £482 – in aid of the fundraising organisation. The Didcot store has raised over £5,000 contributing towards the near £56,000 P2G has raised in almost a decade. P2G celebrates its tenth anniversary in September.

Luke said: “To say I am bricking it (skydive) is an understatement. I am absolutely petrified, but, I stand by my promise and as its for P2G, I am only too keen, as being part of the team so we can hopefully raise £10k (or more) this year.  Shaving my head two years ago in comparison was a doddle, I really am quite anxious but cannot wait to go for this once in a lifetime chance.

“Andy always amazes me and despite what he lives with (brain injury) I always remain inspired by all the great he does, despite through challenging tough and hurdles he faces medically.

“I am hugely honoured to not only play my part in going down at 13,000-ft but also being part of such a wonderful organisation and assisting Andy, that I know P2G will keep on going and growing for years to come. Andy always makes me proud. Huge pleasure to be his ‘best’ friend”

Adding to his thoughts, Matthew said: ” When I accepted the offer to be P2G’s Community Officer, I was eager to be actively involved in fundraising initiatives and event organising. However, being thrown out of a plane at 13,000 feet must have been in the small print of the job description! In all seriousness, the fundraising that Play2Give does makes a real difference.

“When I visited Oxford Children’s Hospital as part of the P2G ‘Sleigh2Give’ campaign at Christmas, I was struck by the deep appreciation by them for the work that Andy and the team are doing. Knowing the impact that the money that we’ve raised has had, I can’t wait to do the sky-dive!

“However scary the plummet might be, it’s incomparable to how scary it is for many of the poorly children and their parents, so doing the sky-dive is really an exciting way to contribute towards making the often scary experience of hospital treatment more comfortable.

“I’m really proud of what Andy has done for the cause, both individually and through P2G, and I’m looking forward to continuing that with him through the sky-dive and our many other events”

Andy, who became 29 on Monday celebrated part of his birthday with Luke, Matthew and close family friends, on Sunday.

The Oxfordshire Guardian & The Oxford Paper’s very own production manager, Pete Herring, father of ?? , is also amongst those taking part to overcome the fear of all fears. Pete is playing his part to back our year of support for the award-winning group.

Pete added: 

Other skydivers, which we will also feature over the weeks, include duty manager Ciaran Vinten, Willowbrook Leisure Centre; Shannon Whiteford; Kevin James of Oxford; David Presley of Didcot Rugby Club and James Hart, Didcot councillor.

While, more back down to earth and feet firmly on the ground, Daniel Underwood, 23, of Didcot, is preparing to face up to a brave shave after volunteering to shaving his head after meeting Andy in February, of which Dan was instantly inspired by Andy as a character, whilst also being encouraged by his partner, Helen Benson. Dan will brave the shave in the coming weeks.

To donate to the P2G, visit tinyurl.com/zksd8xx and let us know what you are doing to help our charity of the year.